Author Archive

Embroidered Eyelets

When I log into this blog to add a new post, I can see what information people are searching for online. I often use that info to help me write blog posts. After all, if the blog information isn’t relevant to the reader, what’s the point in writing it?

This week, I noticed many embroiderers are looking for information on how to make embroidered eyelets because laced necklines and sleeves are popular in ready wear. And when you have digitizing software, you don’t have to wait for a design company to offer a new trendy design – you can do it yourself. Of course, I (and all of us) would be lost without the BEAUTIFUL AND ARTISTICALLY digitized designs embroidery companies furnish for us to purchase. The techniques I teach here on Software Saturday do not replace the embroidery designs available at reputable companies, these techniques complement those designs. I am not an artist and never will be but I can do awful lot with Inspirations’ Perfect Embroidery Pro to bring my ideas to life.

Here’s how to get the fun ‘laced up’ look. Set the measurements to millimeters by clicking on the ruler at the top of the screen. Select the ellipse tool and draw a circle with a 11.3 mm diameter. Select the circle, right click and select Convert to Steil.
The inner dimension of this eyelet is 6.0mm, a comfortable opening for the standard eyelet cutter of 3.0mm.
Click on the ruler to set the measurements to inches. Select the eyelet, and click on the Repeat tool.
Change the numbers in the preview screen to 2 across, 5 down, 1 in distance for both Horizontal and Vertical. Click Apply.
The eyelets are evenly spaced and measure 1.75” x 5.91”.
This spacing is a good starting point for most projects. To customize the space, measure the area of the garment where you want to stitch the eyelets. For instance, if you want to fill a 7” vertical space, draw a 7” vertical line to use as a guideline. Select the bottom eyelet and align it with the bottom of the line. Hold down the CTRL key and use the keyboard’s down arrow to move it straight down.  Select the whole left column of eyelets and click on the Distribute Vertically tool. Boom! The eyelets are evenly spaced. 
Now repeat the process for the column on the right. You’re ready to stitch.
It’s a good idea to test one eyelet on your fabric. Cut it open and insert the yarn you’ll use to lace the eyelets. Once you’re satisfied everything works as planned, then add the eyelets to a bag, neckline or sleeve.

My Favorite Tip for Piecing in the Hoop

Piecing blocks in the hoop is fun, easy and accurate. The first color of a piece in the hoop quilt block is a numbered outline. The outline tells you where to place the individual fabric patches and frankly, I’d be lost without it.
I learned early on to use a thread color that blends with the fabrics to avoid thread bleed-through. The outline above was stitched in black so you can see it more clearly.

I’ve tried two different stabilizers for this process. The first was fusible poly mesh, a permanent addition to the blocks. Then I tried Piece & Stitch, tear away wash away stabilizer. I liked the idea of removing it after piecing but I noticed the stitched numbered outline hindered the removal of the stabilizer. I couldn’t quite remove all of it from the seam allowance areas. Ugh.

Then a light went off – what if I stitched the outline without thread? I removed the thread from the needle and turned off the thread sensor on my machine. Then I stitched the outline sans thread. I could see the numbers and the outline and it was easy to add the fabrics in the proper order.
Now, removing the Piece & Stitch stabilizer was easy. Those small remaining fibers will dissolve once the finished quilt is laundered.

Now all my blocks are flat and the seams are crisp. Love that!

Where Oh Where Did My Design Go?

Maybe you’re like me and you’ve fallen in love with a design, any design like a luscious rose, pretty lace or a furry kitten. You stitch it once and then forget about it until you remember just how beautiful it stitched. And how elegant it would look on your current project. But you struggle to locate it on your computer. Its name is not a noun, more likely it’s a five-digit number with a letter or two thrown in. And since it’s been ages since you bought it, you don’t even remember the company who sold it to you.

I’m sure you’ve felt as frustrated as me when searching for embroidery designs. The list of designs is not helpful as I don’t really want to open each design to see what it is.

Now that I use Inspirations Perfect Stitch Viewer, all of my designs appear as small images of the embroidery designs. Eureka! That makes life so much easier.

Perfect Stitch Viewer is a helpful tool for keeping easily identifying embroidery designs in Windows Explorer (the folder system on your computer). My good friend and colleague Katherine Artines created a helpful tutorial on YouTube about Perfect Stitch Viewer. Katherine taught computer skills in her previous career so she brings solid expertise when she talks about storing and locating designs. Every time I watch one of Katherine’s videos on best practices in Windows Explorer, I learn how to work more efficiently. And she doesn’t disappoint this time either. Click here to watch out how she gets the most out of Perfect Stitch Viewer.

Work+Fun = A Good Life

I’ve always been a believer in enjoying work because it’s where we spend most of our time. This week was no different. We had the pleasure of hosting all of our Designs in Machine Embroidery/Inspirations educational consultants for two intense days of training. Our educators are a passionate, talented group and we covered lots of material like new software features and innovative embroidery techniques. Best of all, we brainstormed on how to share them in the classroom. It’s so inspiring to be surrounded by creative people for two amazing days. At the end, we captured a few highlighted moments to share with you.

Once everyone left, I couldn’t wait to get back in my sewing room – all that creative chat had me jazzed! But that had to be put on hold because the moving trucks were practically idling in the parking lot waiting to load.

You see, we moved offices right after training and are now settled (well, almost!) into our new digs. Like many changes in life, the move was bittersweet. We have fond memories of growing Designs in Machine Embroidery in our former location. Lots of creativity came to life in that building. Just like a home, our workplace saw growth, loss, good times and bad.

Our new space is more suited to our current needs and we look forward to a bright future in our new location. Next week, I’ll get back to a regular Software Saturday post. Look for some photos of our new space on Facebook and Instagram this week. But’s here a sneak peek at my office.

Block of the Month: Block 1 Peony – Sewing Instruction

My Block Piecer Sampler Quilt
Block of the Month : Block 1 Peony
Sewing Instructions

Tips to Keep in Mind

The first color of any My Block Piecer block is the block diagram. The diagram includes the numbers on the patches, the patches outlines and seam allowances. It’s helpful to stitch the diagram in a thread that you can see – something other than white (assuming your stabilizer is white). However, if your fabric is light-colored, the stitches could be visible through the fabric. Our photography shows the diagram in a contrasting color so you can see it clearly for instruction purposes. For this block, we used black and jewel tone fabrics so there is no worry about thread bleed-through.

A modern approach to the Block of Month Sampler includes pastel batiks and whites. A light-colored thread was selected for the diagram. It’s still visible to the user but won’t bleed through the fabrics.

We used a lightweight tear-away stabilizer that practically dissolves when washed so we won’t remove it after making the block. It’s up to you whether you want to take the time to remove the tear-away or leave it in the block. If you used a lightweight cut-away, such as poly mesh, you would not remove it.

In the software lesson for Block 1, you’ll remember that I cut my fabrics slightly larger than the standard ¼” seam allowance. That’s not mandatory but it is helpful.

The patches in the images below were cut with ¼” seam allowances. You can see how easy it is to misaligned the fabrics when working with a narrow seam allowance. In the first image, I ripped out the stitches and realigned the patch.

In the second image, I left the patch intact.

Let’s get started.

Hoop lightweight tear-away stabilizer or polymesh cut-away. Stitch color 1, the block diagram.

Place the patch 1 fabric, right side up, over patch 1. Stitch color 2, the tackdown.

Place the patch 2 fabric, right side down, over the seam of patches 1 and 2, aligning the seam allowances. Stitch color 3, the seam.

Flip patch 2 open and finger press the seam. Stitch color 4, the tackdown of patch 2.

Place the patch 3 fabric, right side down, over the seam of patches 2 and 3, aligning the seam allowances. Stitch color 5, the seam.

Flip patch 3 open and finger press the seam. Stitch color 6, the tackdown of patch 3.

Place the patch 4 fabric, right side down, over the seam of patches 3 and 4, aligning the seam allowances. Stitch color 7, the seam.

Flip patch 4 open and finger press the seam. Stitch color 8, the tackdown of patch 4.

Place the patch 5 fabric, right side down, over the seam of patches 4 and 5, aligning the seam allowances. Stitch color 9, the seam.

Flip patch 5 open and finger press the seam. Stitch color 10, the tackdown of patch 5.

Place the patch 6 fabric, right side down, over the seam of patches 1, 2, 4 and 5, aligning the seam allowances. Stitch color 11, the seam.

Flip patch 6 open and finger press the seam. Stitch color 12, the tackdown of patch 6.

Remove the hoop from the machine and the fabric from the hoop. Place the ¼” mark of a quilter’s ruler on the outside stitch line of the block. Trim the block on all sides. If you used a tear-away stabilizer and want to remove it, do it now. If a cut-away was used, it will remain in the block.

If making the larger quilt, make four blocks of Peony #2. Piece the blocks with ¼” seam allowance or wait until all of your blocks are complete for the final assembly.

Variations of Block 1 Assembly for Large Quilt






My Block Piecer Sampler Quilt Block of the Month

What’s the key to learning and improving your embroidery skills?  Practice!  The My Block Piecer Sampler Quilt block of the month will help you do just that!  Learn the ins and outs to creating in-the-hoop quilt blocks with My Block Piecer, one of today’s hottest techniques. You’ll get familiar with one-unit blocks, advance to two- unit block and three-unit blocks. You’ll learn how to create in-the-hoop blocks from the block library and original artwork files. Plus you’ll create borders – perfectly proportioned without the math!

Don’t have the software?  You can download a free trial by clicking here.  You’ll enjoy a fully-functioning software with only the “Save Function” disabled.  Once you’re ready to purchase the software, visit an Inspirations Dealer to make the purchase. After you purchase, you can duplicate the quilt shown here over the next 12 months.

This block of the month series will feature two lessons every month:

Software Lesson:  First Saturday of the Month
Sewing Lesson:  To be published the following Wednesday

This block of the month sampler quilt has unlimited potential: scrappy, monochromatic, jewel tone, batiks, or ultra-modern quilt.

All blocks are a 6” finished square and the border blocks are 3” x 6” finished.  You can make one of each block or make four for a larger quilt.

Quilt Dimensions

  • Finished size: 24” x 30”
  • We opted to piece our quilt without sashing. If you plan on adding 1” wide finished sashing, you’ll need 1/3 yd. of fabric for the sashing.
  • Fabric requirements:

This is a great opportunity to use scraps or select your own palette. You could go for a bright sunny look as shown above or opt for medium and dark jewel tones.  The image below shows a 42″ x 54″ version. In this version, you’ll make four repeats of each block.  If you opt for the larger quilt, double the yardage of each fabric.

Of course, you can never go wrong with an array of blues.

Yardage calculations are based on ¼” seam allowances. We have slightly increased the amounts for each fabric to allow some wiggle room for cutting and seam allowance.

Special thanks to Nancy Stansbury for this Block of the Month Series.

My Block Piecer Sampler Quilt
Block of the Month: Block 1 Peony
Software Instructions

  1. Open MBP.
  2. Click on Create a New Design.
  3. If the units for the ruler on the design page show mm, Right Click on either one of the rulers on the Design Page, and Click on Inches.
  4. Right Click on either ruler again and click on Grid Settings.
    1. Check marks by:
      1. Maintain aspect ratio
      2. Snap to grid.
    2. Set horizontal spacing to 0.25.
  5. Click OK.
  6. Click on the Block icon. noimage
  1. Enter Peony #2 in the Find box at the bottom of the window (DO NOT CLICK THE ENTER KEY). You’ll find Peony #2 under Foundation Blocks, Foundation Flowers. Remember to include the # sign as there are several Peony blocks in the Block Library.
  2. Click on the Down green arrow, next to the Find box.
  3. Click OK to place the block on the design page.noimage
  • In the Properties Window on the right side of the screen, click on the Transform icon. noimage

    1. Have Maintain aspect ratio checked.
    2. Change the Width to 6.
    3. Click Apply.
  • Click on the Select icon and draw a box around the entire block, OR Enter CTRL-A to select all of the block.
  • Click on the Workflow icon.

    1. In the Hoop field, select a 200mm x 200 mm hoop or similar for your machine from the drop down box.
    2. Click the Auto Build button.
    3. Click on Sort numbers. Click Yes in the message box.
    4. The numbers have been sorted according to the order you will add them to the block.
    5. Click Preview. I’ve filled in patch 1 with green for easy detection. On your file, look for the green outline. Click Save, located under Preview.
    6. The software will automatically create a new folder with three files: the stitch file (select the format for your machine), the artwork of the block and the stitching instructions in PDF format.
    7. Close the file window.
    8. Close the Save window.
  • Click the Cutter icon. noimage

    1. Seam allowance default is .25”. Normally I change this to 0.4” or 0.5”, to make it easier to place the fabric pieces no matter which output format I choose.
    2. How you are going create the fabric pieces for the block, will determine which file format (hoop) to choose for the templates.
      1. If printing templates and using them to manually cut the fabric pieces, select the Paper Letter 210×279 from the Hoop field.
      2. If using the Scan and Cut, select Brother SCN 12x12”.
      3. If using the Silhouette, select Silhouette 12x12”.
      4. For digital cutting files, change the repeat from 1 to 4 if you are making the large quilt.
    3. Can Unclick Optimize Orientation if using a directional fabric (This will optimize how the pieces file on the paper.)
    4. Click Apply.
    5. Click Save.
      1. In File name enter Peony Templates.
      2. Click Save.
      3. The Following Files are created.
        1. Peony templates.pdf.
        2. Peony templates_preview.pdf.
      4. Close the files window.
      5. Close the Cutter window.
  • Print the templates, or prepare your fabric and send the templates to your cutter.
  • Load the design in your machine and have fun making this block.





Stitching Split Designs

It’s easy to split designs in software but the challenge for many embroiderers is in the stitching.  I use a combination of templates, Perfect Alignment Laser and the advance stitch feature on my machine. First, split the design in Inspirations Perfect Embroidery Pro.  Click here to review the steps.  Send the two designs to your machine.

Print a template of both designs. I use Print & Stick Target Template Paper because its adhesive back will stick to the fabric.  Align the two templates on the fabric focusing on placement of the entire design.  For instance, if you’re embroidering a pillow, center the monogram (both designs aligned) on the pillow.  Then remove the second design template (the second hooping).  Hoop the fabric centering the crosshair of the first hooping.  Stitch the design. 

Remove the fabric from the hoop.  Place the second design template on the fabric aligning the template with the stitched design.  

Hoop adhesive stabilizer and remove the protective paper.  Attach the hoop to the machine and stitch the first color of the second hooping, the alignment line. Remove the hoop and position the hoop under PAL aligning the horizontal beam with the horizontal marks on the hoop and the vertical beam with the stitched line. 

Place the embroidered fabric on the sticky stabilizer aligning the stitched line with the vertical beam and the horizontal beam with the template’s horizontal line. 

Double check the placement by lifting the fabric and checking that the stitched line on the fabric is aligned with the stitched line on the stabilizer. 

Attach the hoop to the machine and return to the beginning of color 1, the stitched line.  Advance through color 1 watching the foot trace over the stitched line.  It should align with the stitched line, if not, adjust the fabric until it does.

Stitch the second design.  Now take a closer look.  

My sample is not perfect. 

The four circles illustrate where the two designs connect.  The connections are fine in the blue circles but the areas in the red circles need some help.  I would fix these disconnected areas by sewing a narrow satin column (zigzag stitch) on the sewing machine to join the two areas.  No one would ever know!

I hope you’ll forgive me for this not-so-perfect project and the poor photography on the laser shot.  We’re moving our offices this week so my working environment is not quite up to what it should be.  Hope to have everything back to normal in a week or two!

Last week’s winner of Quilt with an Embroidery Machine in 8 Easy Lessons is….BRENDA KENNEDY!  Brenda said, “I have four tops that need to be quilted.Just purchased the Brother Dream Machine. I need to do something to justify the cost of the machine.I also have a Quattro 2.”

Brenda, we’ll email you to get your mailing address. Congratulations!

Small Hoops – Jumbo Designs

If you love jumbo designs but don’t have a jumbo hoop, you can easily split a design in Inspirations’ Perfect Embroidery Pro. Follow along with me to learn how.

Open a new file in Perfect Embroidery Pro. Click on the Monogram tool and select Mono17. Type in the letter P. Change the height to 6” and click Apply. Split1

Select the design on the screen and click on the Split Design icon. Split2

The Split Design screen appears. Click on the arrow in the Hoop field and select your hoop. I entered 130×180. The red boxes illustrate two hoopings: 1:1 and 2:1. You can move the boxes to select what portion of the design you want to stitch in the first and second hoop. It’s a good idea to move the boxes to split the design at a natural point. In this instance, where the upper right of the P meets the left leg of the P. Click on Split Preview to see the actually split.

The first hooping appears in the preview window.Split4

When you click in the second hooping area, the preview window changes to the second hooping. Split5

Toggle between the first and second hooping to view each individually. If you want to adjust the split, click on Split Preview again. Move the boxes around each portion of the design. Click on Split Preview again to see you changes.

Once you’re satisfied with the split, click Save and the software will save the design into two separate files and templates of both portions.Split6

Print a template of each design and send the designs to your machine. Splitting designs has never been easier.  Give it a try, this is a skill you’ll use over and over again!



Finish Those Quilts in 2018!

If your New Year’s resolution is turn those quilt tops into finished quilts, then you might be interested in learning how to do that on your embroidery machine. About an year ago, Quilt with an Embroidery Machine in 8 Easy Lessons was published.  It is my best-selling book and no wonder – quilting with an embroidery machine is so doable!  And many of us have quilt tops that need to be quilted.  This book has been the culmination of over 20 years of quilting with an embroidery machine. I’ve done everything from embroidered quilt tops to quilt as you as go to quilting king size quilts on an embroidery machine.  I’ve learned an awful lot on this journey and you can still watch the Sewing with Nancy episodes online at

This book teaches you several different methods for quilting with an embroidery machine: quilting and appliqueing in one step; custom quilting and allover quilting.  Quilting and appliqueing in one step is a patented process that I designed in 2008.  Since then, I’ve created 16 Stipple Collections, and in this book you’ll find two projects that incorporate that revolutionary technique.

Custom quilting is no doubt the type of quilting that makes your jaw drop at quilt show competitions.  The quilting is designed to specifically enhance and fill a shape (block), applique or area. To be honest, custom quilting is probably best achieved through expert free motion quilting. When custom quilting is done on an embroidery machine, you do not have the ‘freedom’ to move the needle as you do in free motion quilting so the results are not as ‘customized.’  However, custom quilting is how many of us want to finish our tops. I show you how to do it in the Patriotic Pillow and Diamond table runner.

Allover quilting is often the result you get when you ‘quilt by check’. Quilt by check mean you pay someone else to quilt your quilt. When you send your quilt to a longarmer, they select an allover pattern that complements your quilt top unless you have specifically requested (and agreed to pay for) custom quilting.  There are two types of allover quilting: nesting and linking. You’ll learn the difference between the methods with two projects.

You’ll discover three different ways to handle the quilt during the stitching process: furniture you have on hand, the shortE and the Weightless Quilter.  My goal for this book is to help you expand your embroidery skills into the world of quilting and get more out of your machine.  I hope you find quilting with an embroidery machine as rewarding as I do. 

Want to win a copy of Quilt with an Embroidery Machine in 8 Easy Lessons?  Just leave a comment and tell me if have any quilt tops that need to be quilted.  Do you have one, two, three or more?  One lucky winner will be selected to win the book and the accompanying collection of 20 embroidery designs.  I hope you get all of your quilt tops finished in 2018!


Last Minute Stitching!

If you still need something special for someone on your gift list, go the personal route.  You can take a mundane item and transform it into a heart-warming and thoughtful gift. This might sound simple but you really can’t go wrong with embroidered towels, terry, linen or cotton.

Embroider linen or cotton towels for the kitchen with seasonal embroidery. Add the family name and you’ll add that extra touch. This week (right up until Christmas), our friends at Urban Threads are offering huge discounts on Quick Stitch Christmas designs.  They not only stitch up in minutes but display beautifully.  Here are two sure-to-please designs for Christmas.

And this pretty design will take you through February.

Of course, last minute stitching can be very stressful so when I’m crunched for time I use our Perfect Placement Kit (PPK) to place the design on each towel.  Deborah Jones developed that product many years ago and it’s one I still use every time I embroider.  Such a time-saver.  The towel templates ensure every towel matches in the entire set!  I don’t know what I did before the PPK.

Here’s how I stitch 3, 4 or a dozen towels. I mark the vertical center of each towel with a pin.  Then I place the towel template on the towel, aligning the template’s horizontal border line with the towel border. I insert a target sticker into the opening, aligning the cross hair with the template’s cross hair.  The sticker’s arrow points into the body of the towel indicating the top of the embroidery design.

Remove the template and repeat for all the towels in the set.  Once I have target stickers on all towels, I won’t get confused if I get interrupted during the stitching process. And since it’s the holiday season, I probably will get interrupted!

How about you? Do you have a favorite last minute gift item that you embroider?

Last week’s winner of I Sew For Fun, Click, Print & Stitch software is Janet Rettig.  Merry Christmas!



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